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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I Only Have Eyes For You

Buffy: "I'm telling you, something weird is going on."
Xander: "Something weird is going on. Isn't that our school motto?"

Interesting episode. While being possessed by the ghosts of two lovers who came to a tragic end, Buffy worked through some of her Angel issues – with Angel, who certainly didn't cooperate voluntarily. In the beginning, Buffy was unable to forgive Angel for what he's done, but when the ghost of Grace (possessing Angel) was able to forgive the ghost of James (possessing Buffy), Buffy realized that she had to forgive herself.

And that was a really busy paragraph. Still with me?

This was not a particularly outstanding episode in my opinion, but there were things I liked a lot about it – the chief one being the way the ghost story was finally resolved. What a great idea, having Buffy play the young man and Angel the older woman. It sort of had to happen that way in order for the loop of James killing Grace to finally stop; because Angel couldn't be killed by a bullet, it allowed James and Grace to get past that horrible moment and move on. But it was still delightful as a plot device entirely on its own.

Bits and pieces:

— The Buffy/Angel role reversal theme was echoed by the Sadie Hawkins Day dance.

— Willow is taking on Jenny's mantle in more ways than one: teaching and witchcraft.

— Spike's fury at Angel's poaching of Drusilla finally got him out of his wheelchair.

— Angelus seems to like flowers. He stroked Drusilla with one, and held one when he met Theresa.

— Our vampire trio has moved from the burned out factory to a mansion. The exterior is actually of the crumbling Ennis-Brown house, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It's a stunning house that looks like an Aztec temple. I toured it while I was living in Los Angeles.

— The Mayor of Sunnydale is mentioned, and it's clear from the conversation between the principal and the police chief that supernatural activities in Sunnydale are routinely covered up.

— The flashbacks were set in 1955. The version we hear of "I Only Have Eyes For You" was released in 1959.

— Obligatory dog reference: Buffy: "What do we know?" Xander: "Dog spit is cleaner than human?"

— In the commentary for this episode (or was it the featurette?) Joss Whedon says that this was the episode that convinced him that David Boreanaz could carry his own show. And the seeds of a spinoff were born.

— Note from much later: This episode guest stars future well known actors Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs) and John Hawkes (Deadwood).


Willow: "You're thinking too much. Maybe you need to be impulsive."
Buffy: "Impulsive? Do you remember my ex-boyfriend, the vampire? I slept with him, he lost his soul, now my boyfriend's gone forever, and the demon that wears his face is killing my friends. The next impulsive decision I make will involve my choice of dentures."

Giles: "The only tried and true way is to work out what unresolved issues keep it here, and, um, resolve them."
Buffy: "Fabulous. Now we're Dr. Laura for the deceased."

Buffy: "He should be doing sixty years in a prison, breaking rocks and making special friends with Roscoe the weightlifter."
Xander: "Yikes. The quality of mercy is not Buffy."

Spike: "You might want to let up. They say when you've drawn blood, you've exfoliated."

Let's say two stakes for the episode itself, and four for Gellar and Boreanaz. That averages out to three stakes,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. I like this episode, mostly for that Angel and Buffy scene at the end. Good acting by both of them. And it was kind of satisfying to hear Buffy call Angel a bitch.

    I also liked hearing about how supernatural activities are covered up in Sunnydale and Spike standing up at the end. Not bad fir a mostly standalone episode.

  2. I really like this episode, and I love the idea of different people being inhabited by those ghosts. (Such a fun way of showing different ways of approaching the same scene.)

    Plus, the janitor--that was John Hawkes from Deadwood and the X-Files episode "Milagro"!

  3. I like this one too. I'm more and more impressed by how tightly written these episodes are becoming. When I saw the little netflix synopsis before I started watching I thought it would be a bit of a filler episode, and to some extent it was. But it was still nicely plotted in and of itself and it carried the through line of the season along in an interesting way. Gotta love Joss!

    I keep feeling teased by Angel's story. I see pretty clearly how bad he has become, but little things make me go hmmmm. His manic washing to scrub off the possession (and Buffy cooties, no doubt!) felt like a bit of protesting too much.

  4. This episode always makes me sad. Watching Buffy and Angel play out the scene just kills me, but I especially like the long-term effect it has on Angel. He can't just shrug it off, or scrub it off.

    The final shot is fantastic. Makes me excited to see why Spike is playacting and what he will get up to next.

  5. I admire how this show manages to balance weighty issues with humour and affection for the characters. Poor Buffy has to deal with the loss of the first love of her life and the guilt of feeling responsible for the deaths of many people. Most adults would crumble under this pressure but teenage Buffy is managing and still saving the world. I enjoyed Willow having so much fun as a substitute teacher and was impressed by Xander walking into a room that still had snakes in it with barely a flinch. This show is so well written that I even like Cordelia and am cheering for Spike. I hope Angel gets his ass kicked.

  6. This is one of my favorite episodes but I always forget why when I'm watching it right up until that EPIC SMG/DB scene. I think it's my favorite Buffy/Angel scene of all time. It's practically flawless. The rest of the ep is good, but that scene is amazing. :)

    Oh and in the flashback, of the girls says "David is so dreamy." DB is, indeed. :)

  7. It's funny, but I don't think David Boreanaz was that great on the scene. His line delivery of "it doesn't matter what I feel", for instance, is a little overacted. At this point on the show, he nailed Angelus, but overall he was still a struggling actor. SMG was amazing, though.

    I love Cordelia's "I shall totally confront and expel all evil."

  8. I really love how Buffy is working through her guilt of basically killing the Angel she loved. "You can't wake up one day and stop loving someone." The exquisite agony of doomed love paired with terms like snake-a-licious is why I adore this show.

  9. Lots of things for me to like in this episode:

    - The opening song "Charge" by Splendid was very atmospheric for the scene.

    - Loved Willow making scapulas from sulfur for everyone's protection, and coming up with the Mangus tripod. When she mentions looking through Jenny's files on witchcraft, I'm reminded of when she "just wanted to learn stuff" at the end of "Ted."

    - Poor Giles, first deluding himself into thinking the poltergeist was Jenny, then becoming despondent when he realizes it wasn't her.

    - The Buffy / Angel and James / Grace scene is amazingly scripted and acted. Gives me chills every time. When Grace was possessing Angel talking about wanting James to have some kind of normal life, and James / Buffy replies not giving a damn about a normal life, it's hard not to read into the realities of Buffy / Angel relationship if they were still a couple.

    - Angelus received a partial comeupance by being possessed by Nancy. It's amusing to witness him scrubbing himself raw, until the "vile kill" part ...

  10. This was a great episode plus JOHN HAWKES! I guess he's been paying his dues for a while...

    I was happy to see the return of the principal too. His comment about the "no-life vegan" chained to the vending machine had me cracking up.

    I'm sure I've said this before but just like with "Halloween" I love watching characters change instantly as they become someone else and this was the perfect episode for that. Having Buffy and Angel play against gender was wonderful and fit their lives perfectly as well.

    Yeah! Spike's up and with a plan!! I can't wait...

    Wow! Dru was going after a toddler? First the puppy, now this...she's crazy evil! (And I love her!)

    Where's Oz been? I was excited to see Oz in an episode without Spike but now it seems to be balancing out...damn that Seth Green and his late 90s movie career...

  11. Not much I can add that hasn't been said already. Great episode, fits nicely with the ongoing plot. Always glad to see Spike get back on his feet too.

  12. It was fantastic chris, thanks for asking. Am suffering a bit from post festival fatigue just now, just can't keep up the pace anymore! The Rolling Stones put on a very impressive show, and I thought PIL were fantastic. As always I missed much more than I saw.

  13. So glad it went well. I kept going on line to see what was happening.

    When I came back from it last year, it took me a week to get back to normal. The human body is not meant to take that much abuse in only five days!


  14. Newbie report:

    I'm sorry, I couldn't get through this one. I tried a couple of times over two days (that's why this report is late) but I kept gagging and had to take time out to recover.

    Today, I got as far as "hairy legged feminist" and hung it up. Maybe it got better, I'll never know.

    -1 hockey pucks out of 4

  15. Interesting Billie - I always take Buffy's speech at the beginning to mean that she cant forgive herself for what she has done to Angel, rather than what Angelus has done to her...

    Still working my way up to catching up with the rewatch. Should be with you guys soon.

  16. I’ve made this far on the rewatch and, man, what a fantastic episode. It’s definitely one of my favorites and probably the most magical episode of the entire show, if there’s such a qualification. The final act is simply beautiful. I’ll probably run out of words of praise.

    The ghost story is very well done and the payoff is beyond this world. Everything is so involving, from the script, to the score, to the acting. Marti Noxon’s script is brilliant, Christophe Beck has magical powers (seriously, his musical pieces are beautiful) and Sarah Michelle Gellar knocks it out of the park. I do have one qualm, though: while the forgiveness lesson is a very good one, having Angel possessed by Grace say “I’m the one who should be sorry” is too much. I get that James’ ghost was driving the whole thing, but that moment felt like the writers were validating his twisted love, which sends a very wrong message. Still, it’s a minor criticism on an otherwise brilliant scene.

    Other scenes also stand out, and I like that the kids are the ones solving the mystery. The attempted exorcism at the school is one of my favorite moments of the high school era of the show.

    Now onto Spike/Dru/Angel: Spike was never among my favorite characters, I just don’t see him as such a pivotal part of the show as other fans do (and like Buffy, Willow and Xander are). I do love Spike, though, especially when he is at his best, but through this rewatch I really wasn’t feeling the love, until now. That scene where Spike says Angel is all word and no action (which is a very good point, actually) and Angel taunts him by sexually advancing on Drusilla is amazing. I love how Spike avoids eye contact at first and finally looks at Angel with anger, resentment, determination and a look of “man, this hurts and you’ll pay for what you’re doing right now, just wait”. James Marsters is a fantastic actor and conveys so many emotions all at once. Suddenly I fell in love with Spike all over again. And I really, really want Angel’s ass to get kicked.

    This episode made me so glad I’m participating of the rewatch (even though I’m far behind). Not that others haven’t, but this one made me aware I’m living the Buffy experience again, and what a great journey this is.

    Favorite lines (both were Giles’):

    “You should never be cowed by authority.”

    “To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It’s not done because people deserve it, it’s done because they need it.”

    And a bit:

    Is it a coincidence that Angel gets possessed by Grace? I don’t think so, especially when you consider that the biblical meaning of grace is undeserved favor.

  17. Okay, so almost everyone disliked the last episode (Killed by Death) and I thought it was okay. Now everyone loves this episode and I thought it was pure garbage. I hated it. I mean give me stupid-looking low budget monsters and I'll deal with it, but this crap made me want to stop watching. And part of it, I'll admit, is because I don't like romantic storylines, because I'm lonely and bitter, but this was beyond that. The message about being able to forgive someone? I don't forgive any guy who kills a person for breaking up with him. And I don't feel bad about it. So I didn't feel sorry for him and I would have been just as happy if they showed him roasting in Hell at the end. And aside from that, I don't forgive her, either. She was a teacher having an affair with her student. How is it that nobody mentioned that? It wasn't in your review; it wasn't in any of the comments. Does nobody have a problem with a teacher having an affair with her student? I hope they both rot.
    I still find Buffy to be a largely boring character and Angel/Angelus isn't doing much better. As I've said before, DB is pretty talented; at least enough to convince me he has gone to a fully evil version of the same character he was before. But he is lacking nuance. He's just into hurting Buffy over and over. We get it, dude. You're angry. Now do something else. I've also been confused why everyone talks about how great Spike is, when he's been sitting in that wheelchair for-freakin'-ever. Now that he's up, I hope he's going to actually do something.
    I apologize to all the people here who love BtVS. I didn't start commenting to rain on anyone's parade, but this episode just completely irritated me. I find it odd and annoying that the character I'm most curious about at this point is Principal Snyder.

  18. JBA, I believe I said in my review that it was not a particularly outstanding episode. What I liked was Buffy and Angel possessed and working out stuff as other people.

    If you'd rather not continue watching the show, don't feel compelled. Seriously.

  19. Hi Billie,

    I'm sorry if I sound like a jerk. I guess I'm disappointed that I can't see what everyone else sees in the show yet. I'm going to keep going at least to the end of season 2, since everyone seems to think this is the best season. If I'm not into it by then, I'll drop out. I will try not to post my comments if they're all negative. I know how annoying that can be, since I've seen people do it on the shows I like. I didn't mean to become one of them. I hope I did not irritate you (or anyone else who may read my comments).

  20. JBA, no sweat. Everyone's mileage varies. And season three is the best season, not two. FWIW.

  21. I'm not going to allow it to go up, but this review just got hit with lasik surgery spam. Too funny.


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